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UFC Fight Night: Walker vs. Santos Preview by Grant Emrick

August 6, 2022

Emrick’s UFC Fighter Pick Record (179-91) – 66% Correct

Prelim Predictions:

WBW: Mayra Bueno Silva (8-2-1) vs. Stephanie Egger (7-2)

  • Pick: Mayra Bueno Silva

WSTRAW: Cory McKenna (6-2) vs. Miranda Granger (7-2)

  • Pick: Cory McKenna

WW: Jason Witt (19-8) vs. Josh Quinlan (5-0, 1 NC)

  • Pick: Josh Quinlan

WW: Bryan Battle (8-1) vs. Takashi Sato (16-5)

  • Pick: Bryan Battle

LW: Terrance McKinney (12-4) vs. Erick Gonzalez (14-6)

  • Pick: Terrance McKinney

MW: Sam Alvey (33-17-1, 1 NC) vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk (16-5, 1 NC)

  • Pick: Michal Oleksiejczuk

Main Card Predictions:

WFLY: Ariane Lipski (14-7) vs. Priscila Cachoeira (11-4)

  • Pick: Ariane Lipski
  • Quick Reasoning: Barring another blasphemous scorecard by the judges – see the Ji Yeon Kim and Cachoeira fight from earlier this year – Lipski should be able to take advantage of Cachoeira’s porous striking defense. The only way I see Lipski losing is via TKO, as her chin is the most suspect part of her game with KO losses in two of her last three fights. Lipski’s submission threat is also dangerous against Cachoeira, so I see the strength of schedule, striking, and ground work all favoring Lipski to pull off a submission or UD victory.

HW: #14 Augusto Sakai (15-4-1) vs. Serghei Spivac (14-3)

  • Pick: Serghei Spivac
  • Quick Reasoning: It’s already shocking Spivac is not in the heavyweight top 15. He’s submitted Tai Tuivasa, has won four of his last five besides a loss to Tom Aspinall, and even managed to outgrapple Aleksei Oleinik. I think the ground game of Spivac will be too much for Sakai to handle, as he truly is a balanced fighter who can mix it up well. Sakai has also lost three straight bouts to Tuivasa, Rozenstruik, and Overeem. Not having won a fight since a split-decision with Blagoy Ivanov in early 2020 isn’t an amazing look, so the momentum is all with the “Polar Bear” to get this done. Although I feel like the resume sides with Sakai, I see Spivac getting this fight to the ground and finishing Sakai in what could be his fourth straight TKO loss. 

WFLY: Brogan Walker (8-2) vs. Juliana Miller (3-1) 

  • Pick: Brogan Walker
  • Quick Reasoning: I didn’t watch this season of TUF and I doubt you did too, but this is where we’re at nowadays. However, I’ll be siding with the underdog here for a variety of reasons. Walker is the more experienced with ten professional fights, has already faced UFC caliber opponents in Miranda Maverick, Erin Blanchfield, and Pearl Gonzalez, and has the style to constantly pressure Miller throughout the fight. When it comes to Miller, there’s just a lot of unknowns in how her game can translate to the UFC with only four professional fights. The finishing threat belongs to Miller and her submission threat, but I think Walker is seasoned enough to avoid those positions. This fight is a toss-up, but I’d side with Walker at plus odds to get this done via decision. 

HW: Mohammed Usman (8-2) vs. Zac Pauga (6-0)

  • Pick: Zac Pauga
  • Quick Reasoning: With all due respect to the Usman family, Mohammed is essentially the lesser-quality Herbert Burns as the sibling to Gilbert Burns. Not that he hasn’t had plenty to learn from Kamaru and his legendary fighting abilities, but Mohammed just isn’t that guy. His fight was the one I did watch, which had plenty of low fight IQ moments from his opponent that helped secure Mohammed’s victory. I don’t think we’ll see that in Pauga make those mistakes, as he’ll wear down on the cardio and underwhelming striking of Usman. I do like the striking and pace of Pauga a lot more in this matchup, which is why I’m siding with him to make a statement and land a TKO victory in the second or third round. 

WW: #6 Vicente Luque (21-8-1) vs. #13 Geoff Neal (14-4)

  • Pick: Vicente Luque
  • Quick Reasoning: Luque has too many facets of his game to drop this fight, so it’s definitely Vicente’s to lose. Outside of his last fight with Belal Muhammad, Luque has performed very well as of late. Four straight finishes against Chiesa, Woodley, Brown, and Price have earned him three performance or fight of the night bonuses. With fluid striking ability and the technical skills to work his opponents to the mat and grapple them into difficult positions are some of the traits that have kept Luque in the top ten. In my opinion, I thought Geoff Neal should’ve lost his last fight to Santiago Ponzinibbio in December 2021. I won’t call it a robbery, but a split-decision seemed like a fairly accurate telling of how close that fight was. If Neal had lost that, he would have lost his third straight fight and found himself on the outside of the rankings. Overall, I see Neal as a solid striker with some good takedown defense. However, I think Luque’s powerful striking attack may open up some opportunities for a takedown and threatening submissions. Neal hasn’t been finished in the UFC, but I have a feeling the first one will come this Saturday night via submission. 

LHW: #6 Thiago Santos (22-10) vs. #10 Jamahal Hill (10-1, 1 NC)

  • Pick: Jamahal Hill
  • Quick Reasoning: Two thumbs up for Jamahal Hill! After suffering a nasty dislocated arm against Paul Craig last summer, Hill has looked like an absolute baller with easy money victories over Jimmy Crute and Johnny Walker. His reach and height advantages of at last 2” each, a striking differential of nearly 2:1, and momentous journey in the UFC at 5-1 places him in an amazing spot to keep pushing towards the elite of the LHW division. Santos still has his power, at least we think, after managing a knockdown against future title contender Magomed Ankalaev. But the hesitancy since the Jon Jones fight is noticeable. He has been weary of entering fistfights, keeping range and avoiding any elongated exchange with greater fear of risk than the opportunity of reward. Santos is 1-4 in his last five, but the snoozer of a fight with Johnny Walker could have some arguments that’d lead him to 0-5. As we all know, Hill has power and isn’t afraid to use it. I think Hill will use his range advantage nicely and wear on Santos, but will pressure early and often. Give me Hill via TKO in the first three rounds and a future fight with a top five opponent. 

Emrick’s Combat Sports Betting:

  • Straight Bets:
    • Dawg of the Week (3-3): Brogan Walker ML
      • 0.5u to win 0.525u
    • Vicente Luque ML
      • 2.5u to win 1.47u
    • Serghei Spivac ML
      • 1.5u to win 0.697u
  • Parlay Bets:
    • Battle, McKinney, Oleksiejczuk ML
      • 1u to win 0.902u
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